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CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED BY STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES WHEN PURSUING PROGRAMMES WITH ZIMBABWE OPEN UNIVERSITY (ZOU)

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Author(s): Jane Mutasa | Pedzisai Goronga | Judith Tafangombe

Journal: Academic Research International
ISSN 2223-9944

Volume: 4;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 513;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Disability | impairment | technological devices | challenges | mental health | Braille

ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study was to establish the challenges that confront students with disabilities as they undertook studies with Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). The challenges were those that related to all processes that students interacted with fromadmission to exit of programmes. A qualitative research paradigm was preferred in which a case study was used. Interviews were used to gather data. The study participants were 19. Categories of students with disabilities comprised those with visual, hearing, physical impairment and mental health challenges. A number of challenges were identified but both staff members and students were resolute in theirpursuit of achieving desirable outcomes in their study endeavours. Main challenges were on financial constraints, accessing the physical environment of some Regional Centres, not being well versed in utilising technological devices, shortage of technological devices, failure to modify study materials and examination writingchallenges. Focusing on details of challenges faced shows that students were dropping out of programmes because of financial constraints. A number had not received their past semester results owing to failure to pay up the fees. Students with physical impairments were finding it difficult to reach the Regional Offices as lifts had long broken down and the offices on third floor could only be reached by stairs. Both staff members and students needed more staff development on accessing information technologically. The institution and students lacked technological equipment such as computers and other hardware and soft ware to have a sound backup system. Study materials were only partially modified for the visuallyimpaired. The study recommends that a lot more needs to be done in assisting students with varied forms of disability.
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